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Work Progresses On KYTC's $740M U.S. 460 Project

Tue April 09, 2024 - Midwest Edition #8
Cindy Riley – CEG Correspondent


The Pond Creek Bridge will be completed in the summer of 2024, while the Russell Fork Bridge should be finished by spring 2025.
Photo courtesy of KYTC
The Pond Creek Bridge will be completed in the summer of 2024, while the Russell Fork Bridge should be finished by spring 2025.
The Pond Creek Bridge will be completed in the summer of 2024, while the Russell Fork Bridge should be finished by spring 2025.   (Photo courtesy of KYTC) Originally identified in 1965 by Congress as “Appalachian Corridor Q,” the U.S. 460 corridor in Pike County was part of the original Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS).   (Photo courtesy of KYTC) For sections 22 and 23, the construction costs are $26.5 million and $66.7 million, respectively.   (Photo courtesy of KYTC) This GOMACO GT6300 Commander III tracked concrete paver at work on the new U.S. 460.    (Photo courtesy of KYTC) Triton Construction, of St. Albans, W.V., is overseeing work for section 23   (Photo courtesy of KYTC) Construction of the new U.S. 460 began in May 2002.   (Photo courtesy of KYTC) Equipment required on the job includes cranes, excavators, dozers, loaders, mining shovels, large dump trucks, graders, asphalt pavers, rollers, a shuttle buggy and drills.   (Photo courtesy of KYTC) Among the main materials used are crushed stone base, asphalt, concrete, steel beams and steel reinforcement and roadway refill.   (Photo courtesy of KYTC) “The bridge over Russell Fork is more than a half-mile long, and requires great attention to detail, as contractors work connecting each span to its multiple piers,” said Vincent Hayes, KYTC project manager of construction.    (Photo courtesy of KYTC) “We are fortunate to have contractors and inspectors experienced with roadway and bridge construction in the mountains,” said Vincent Hayes, KYTC project manager of construction.   (Photo courtesy of KYTC) To provide safer, more efficient travel, crews in Pike County, Ky., are reconstructing two key sections of U.S. 460 as they inch closer to the finish line. 
   (Photo courtesy of KYTC) Workers are replacing a narrow and winding route with a modern four-lane highway that features wider, 12-ft. lanes and full shoulders.   (Photo courtesy of KYTC) A Cat 6040 mining shovel at work on the new U.S. 460 in Pike County, Ky.
   (Photo courtesy of KYTC
) Work is under way to construct drop boxes for drainage purposes, until the weather is suitable to work on the roadway.   (Photo courtesy of KYTC) The overall reconstruction totals $740 million, making it the biggest road project KYTC has undertaken east of Lexington.
   (Photo courtesy of KYTC) Construction on the recently awarded $40.1 million contract for the 24th and final segment of the overall project began in February.   (Photo courtesy of KYTC)

In an effort to provide safer, more efficient travel, crews in Pike County, Ky., are reconstructing two key sections of U.S. 460 as they inch closer to the finish line. Workers are replacing a narrow and winding route with a modern four-lane highway that features wider, 12-ft. lanes and full shoulders.

"This and other projects to transform U.S. 460 have been undertaken by Gov. Andy Beshear's administration to foster economic development and ensure generations of families can travel to and from work, schools, healthcare centers and other destinations along a new highway through the mountains from Pikeville to the Virginia state line that will be safer and faster," said John Michael Johnson Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) project manager of pre-construction. "This new U.S. 460 is an investment in eastern Kentucky that will pay dividends for generations to come."

Photo courtesy of KYTC

At this time, crews are fully immersed in constructing sections 22 and 23. These are two bridge projects located in the center of a 16.7-mi. undertaking to build a new section of U.S. 460 from U.S. 23 south of Pikeville to the Virginia state line. The Pond Creek Bridge (section 22) is approximately 1,000 ft. long while the Russell Fork Bridge (section 23) is 2,800 ft.

There has been minimal disruption to traffic since the project involves building a new route cross country away from existing roadways. There have, however, been slight delays on KY 80 near Elkhorn City when beams were being set above that highway for the Russell Fork Bridge.

The contractor for section 22 is Bush and Burchett Inc., of Allen, Ky.; Triton Construction, of St. Albans, W.V., is overseeing work for section 23. The Pond Creek Bridge will be completed in the summer of 2024, while the Russell Fork Bridge should be finished by spring 2025.

Originally identified in 1965 by Congress as "Appalachian Corridor Q," the U.S. 460 corridor in Pike County was part of the original Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS). Many of the early sections of U.S. 460 were built with Appalachian Development highway funding designated by lawmakers to complete the ADHS.

The overall reconstruction totals $740 million, making it the biggest road project KYTC has undertaken east of Lexington. For sections 22 and 23, the construction costs are $26.5 million and $66.7 million, respectively.

KYTC project manager of construction, Vincent Hayes, noted the projects under construction have not been without their share of obstacles.

"While nearly complete now, the bridge at Pond Creek stands 324 feet high and is the tallest state highway bridge in Kentucky. Challenges included an innovative approach to ‘launch' the bridge beams onto piers across the valley using specialized equipment, as well as maneuvering large cranes around the small project staging area so that counterweights could be applied to safely perform work more than 300 feet off the ground.

"The bridge over Russell Fork, which is ongoing, is more than a half-mile long, and requires great attention to detail, as contractors work connecting each span to its multiple piers."

Construction currently taking place includes the roadway surfacing project that will address the entirety of the corridor from U.S. 23 south of Pikeville to the Virginia line. Work is under way to construct drop boxes for drainage purposes, until the weather is suitable to work on the roadway. Final dressing and drainage work for Pond Creek Bridge is also under way.

Key tasks remaining include completing the Russell Fork bridge and getting blacktop surface on the completed grade and drain section between Marrowbone Bridge (over KY-195) and the Russell Fork Bridge.

All major excavation work has already been completed. The design includes 100 million cu. yds. of total excavation on the 16.7 mi. of U.S. 460, which is the equivalent of six Pikeville cut-thru projects.

As for concerns when working in such a rugged area, said Hayes, "We are fortunate to have contractors and inspectors experienced with roadway and bridge construction in the mountains.

Photo courtesy of KYTC

"Each contractor usually deployed multiple crews to tackle different construction items at once. During excavation, there was typically a night shift. As is typical, construction slows down during excessive snow or frigid temperatures, or when weather is too severe to operate machinery safely."

Equipment required on the job includes cranes, excavators, dozers, loaders, mining shovels, large dump trucks, graders, asphalt pavers, rollers, a shuttle buggy and drills. Among the main materials used are crushed stone base, asphalt, concrete, steel beams and steel reinforcement and roadway refill.

Construction of the new U.S. 460 began in May 2002. The first 8 mi. of the project opened in December 2014, followed by 3.5 more miles in November 2020. Construction on the recently awarded $40.1 million contract for the 24th and final segment of the overall project began in February. It involves completing the roadbed from Marrowbone Bridge over Kentucky Highway 195 to Russell Fork Bridge near Beaver, as well as resurfacing all open and existing sections of the new highway.

According to Johnson, the countless hours of construction will be beneficial to drivers, who are eagerly awaiting the finished product.

"This will provide a much-needed route from Pikeville to Grundy, Va., that improves traffic safety, saves time and opens up economic opportunities." CEG




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